Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tactical Nuclear Weapons May Be Deployed to Future UPP Meetings

A meeting of the left-wing United Progressive Party ended in a fist fight at the weekend just weeks after lawmakers passed an 'anti-clash' revision to the National Assembly Act aimed at preventing fighting in Korea's parliament. The UPP got around the bill by holding their meeting in the basement of the building, which is not covered by the new law.

The United Progressive Party, which was founded in January this year - making it one of Korea's oldest - was originally formed after a merger of the Democratic Labor Party, the People's Participation Party and the United Progressive Party, under the title of the New Progressive Party, but when political commentators noted that they weren't really new, they changed their title again to the United Progressive Party, partly because they still held the domain name but mostly because after almost 25 years of progressive factionalism there were apparently no names to call the new party which hadn't been used before.

But since January, the relationship between United Progressive Party representatives has become increasingly acrimonious, leading some members to consider changing the name at the weekend meeting to the Disunited Progressive Party, or the more aspirational Progressively United Party. As the proposal was heard there was an outbreak of dialecticalism in which members who violently opposed to the change rushed the other faction and began throwing punches. The ensuing brawl resulted in the hospitalization of several UPP/DPP politicians. If they are ever elected to power, the left-wing UPP/DPP promises to build a society based on social inclusion and tolerance.

While fighting broke out over the party's name, party members are also split over whether to support Marxist economic policies as once allegedly pursued by the Soviet Union, or Koreanist economic policies as currently pursued by Pyongyang. Among party elders, there are also ongoing arguments about who was tortured the most by South Korea's military government back in their university days.

The UPP/DPP has now launched an emergency leadership committee following the fight and appealed for an end to violence among its members. It will be led by Kang Ki-kab, an ultra-progressive who was found guilty by the Supreme Court last year of assaulting parliamentary security guards in 2009.

The government is under pressure to ask the U.S. to deploy tactical nuclear weapons to future UPP/DPP meetings, but a senior defense official denied that the matter of their redeployment had been discussed, saying everyone accepted that it was better to leave them where they currently are, buried in the mountains north of Seoul.

Officially, the government is against even the deterrent use of such tactical nuclear weapons as there are fears progressive elements may seize control of them at meetings and conduct terrorist acts - last year, a Democratic Labor Party member who is now part of the successor UPP/DPP threw a tear-gas bomb inside the National Assembly's main chamber in a protest over free trade. However, the government's stance on the use of tactical nuclear weapons is at odds with the majority of Koreans who surveys show want an atomic bomb.

Related Links
South Korean political meeting descends into fisticuffs
National Assembly passes bill on preventing parliamentary brawls
Unified Progressive Party on Verge of Split After Violent Scuffles
UPP Launches Emergency Leadership Committee
Top court upholds guilty verdict for progressive lawmaker
S.Korean Military Against Redeployment of U.S. Nukes
Populist Plot to Bomb National Assembly Revealed
Majority of South Koreans Want Atomic Bomb

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